Filed Under Cemeteries

William Goddard's Park

Goddard Memorial State Park is more than a simple plot of land. A state recreation area with 490 acres of land in Potowomut Neck, Warwick, the park has a lot of history behind it. In 1792, Nicholas Brown acquired this land. He later passed it on to his daughter, Hope Brown, who married Thomas Poynton Ives and gave birth to Charlotte Ives Goddard, William’s mother. For many decades after, the land remained home to the family’s mansion, known as "The Oaks,” until it burned down in 1975.

The state park was officially inaugurated in 1930, when it became one of the largest and most historically significant state parks in RI. William Goddard, one of the most important Goddard family members, and for a long time the owner of the estate, is the member of the family most commonly associated with the park.

William Goddard was born on the estate in Potowomut Neck on Christmas Day, 1825. Graduating from Brown University in 1846, by 1848 he was in Europe acting as a courier between local leaders of the 1848 Revolutions. He later returned to Providence and established the firm of Goddard Brothers alongside his brother Thomas. Goddard Brothers acted as an agent for the Rhode Island textile mills owned by their uncles on the Brown and Ives’ sides of the family. Shortly after this, he volunteered as an aide-de-camp to two different generals during the Civil War. He was later promoted to colonel, and he fought in several battles, gaining a commendation for gallantry. He came back to Rhode Island to manage Brown and Ives, a large industrial and commercial company that dealt with everything from financing to real estate and land. He also served as the tenth chancellor of Brown University, as president of the Providence National Bank, and as head of several philanthropic, cultural, and community organizations. During this time, he always lived on his estate in what is today the state park.


Summer Swimmers
Summer Swimmers In this undated photo, crowds are enjoying the warm weather at Goddard State Park. You can see the close proximity of the woods to the beach by noting the trees in the background. The park served as a recreation spot of those who lived in denser cities and needed a respite during the summer months. Source: Providence Public Library: VM013_GC2538
Aerial View
Aerial View This is an aerial photograph of East Greenwich cove with Goddard Park in the foreground in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Source: Providence Public Library: VM018_03
Picnicking in the Park
Picnicking in the Park This photo, from the 1970s, shows people enjoying the park. Source: Providence Public Library: VM013_GF5086 Date: Circa 1970s


5 Branch Avenue, Providence, RI 02904 | Access the grave via North Burial Ground's south gate/main entrance at North Main Street and Branch Avenue during normal business hours, or by the pedestrian gate on North Main Street and Rochambeau Avenue.


Tomaz Anaia, Rhode Island College , “William Goddard's Park,” Rhode Tour, accessed July 22, 2024,